Infinite Energy Magazine
Proceedings of New Energy Conference
Rejected by Publisher
Christy L. Frazier
Long before the March 2010 New Energy Technology Symposium was held at the 239th American Chemical Society (ACS) National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco, its organizer Dr. Jan Marwan was contacted by AIP Publishing, a branch of the American Institute of Physics. Maya Flikop, AIP’s Director of Special Publications and Proceedings, contacted Marwan in July 2009 to inquire whether he would edit and publish the proceedings of the symposium with AIP.
Marwan had published the proceedings of the two previous sessions (co-organized with Steven Krivit) with Oxford University Press (via the ACS Books program), under the titles Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions Sourcebook (Vol. 1) and Low-Energy Nuclear Reactions and New Energy Technologies Sourcebook (Vol. 2). Marwan changed things up and contracted with AIP Publishing for the third volume because he felt that publishing with a physics institute might bring the field and the work presented more exposure. He signed the AIP publishing contract on October 5, 2009.
Marwan had no way to know that this decision would ultimately end very badly. He organized and attended the March 21-22 New Energy Technology Symposium, the third annual session of its kind at the national ACS meeting. An audience of about 60 people partook of the nearly 50 presentations. See the conference summary from IE #91 (online at http://www.infinite-energy.com/images/pdfs/acs.pdf).
On June 29, 2010, Marwan submitted the proceeding materials to AIP. He exchanged a few emails back and forth with AIP employees about minor issues with the material. At the end of July, he worked with Production Editor Tina Choy on the cover and title pages for the book.
At the end of August, Marwan was thrilled to see the hardcover proceedings advertised for sale on the AIP website for $209. While proceedings do not typically sell to many others than those who participated, having the book on the site would further validate the efforts of those in the field.
On September 9, Marwan received a box from the AIP containing unbound copies of the papers from the proceedings. He tried to find out why he did not receive the actual printed books.
On September 13, Marwan received an AIP invoice for about $5,500, for printing. He sent payment on September 29 and the funds were in AIP’s account as of October 1.
Four days after the AIP procured the funds from Marwan, he received an unexpected letter from Flikop. Flikop’s emailed letter of October 5, 2010 explains: “…AIP’s Publisher’s Office has had a chance to evaluate the contents of the material presented. Based on this evaluation, AIP has decided to exercise its right under Section C.1(a) of the Publishing Contract to decline publishing the proceedings and materials as an AIP publication.” Section C.1(a) of the AIP Publishing Contract states: “…while the primary responsibility for reviewing Volume material falls to the Editor, AIP reserves the right to exclude any or all material from publication should AIP deem the material (a) as being unsuitable for publication based on form or content…” Flikop informed Marwan that the AIP would facilitate the printing of the volume, at a reduced cost, with the AIP copyright and affiliation removed. Marwan refused this offer.
Marwan and authors of some of the papers wrote to the AIP about this controversial decision to halt publication; some received replies and some did not.
Dr. Edmund Storms wrote on October 7 to Flikop: “As a person interested in the subject, I would like the courtesy of knowing why this agreement was withdrawn at the last minuet. The subject has scientific and national importance. In addition, a growing literature supports the reality of the effects described in the symposium. Consequently, a rational reason is justified that I hope you will provide.”
Flikop responded: “AIP, in all of its contracts for publication of conference proceedings, reserves the right to exclude any or all material from publication should we deem the material unsuitable for publication based on form or content [Section C.1(a)]. After a customary review by our editorial office, the content of the planned proceedings volume entitled Symposium on New Energy Technology was judged not to meet the minimal editorial standards that have been established for the AIP Conference Proceedings program.”
Storms wrote again: “I have reviewed many papers submitted for publication in major journals during my long career in science. It is customary when rejecting a paper for the publisher (journal) to give more than a legal reason for rejection as you have done. I have also read the papers in the rejected material and find that they meet all the editorial standards normally required of publication in a major journal. Therefore, the only reason for rejection that seems to make sense is the subject of the papers. I would like the courtesy of knowing if this is the reason.”
Storms did not hear back from any representative of the AIP. Marwan responded to Flikop and others at the AIP on October 15: “The fact that the AIP has declined to publish our conference proceedings at the very last moment has raised many questions. My colleagues are wondering what is the true reason for this unexpected decision and why was our AIP conference book advertised on the AIP website from the end of August until October 4 and then suddenly removed and cancelled for publication…Our AIP colleagues should know that their behavior to handle our request for detailed explanation why the content of the planned proceedings volume ‘was judged not to meet the minimal editorial standards’ looks quite strange and more and more my colleagues and contributors to this AIP book are wondering what is really going on behind the scene…” Given the timeline laid out previously herein and the seemingly abrupt AIP decision to halt publication, Marwan wrote, “AIP colleagues will understand my confusion, and they are very welcome to shed some light on this mystery to enlighten me. Otherwise, I would tentatively assume that this decision to reject our volume has nothing to do with science but is rather politically motivated. It is now your turn, dear AIP colleagues, to explicitly name the reasons why this volume has been withdrawn at that very final stage. It is your responsibility to clarify this matter for all those interested in new energy related subjects. We would very much appreciate to discuss with you science related issues that forced you to reject our volume.”
In the meantime (October 11), Storms had also written directly to the AIP’s Executive Director, Dr. Frederick Dylla: “…Educating the scientific establishment about this work has been a challenge because many normal paths used for public education have been blocked by uninformed skepticism. Nevertheless, the major scientific societies including ACS and APS have gradually opened their doors to conference and symposium papers. With this increased acceptance in mind, Dr. Jan Marwan made arrangements with the AIP to publish a collection of papers about the subject…This arrangement was withdrawn after the papers were submitted in final form…If the papers were too poorly written to meet your standards, knowing this as the reason would be very useful. Dr. Marwan would then have the authority to repair the flaws, with future publication by the AIP in mind…”
Storms went on to provide Dylla with a general overview of the impact cold fusion could have, concluding, “If cold fusion can be made to occur at greater rates, this would be the ideal energy source for which mankind has been searching. This possibility is so important that responsible scientists do not have the luxury of being ignorant skeptics, no matter how unlikely the reality of cold fusion might appear to be.”
Dr. Mark Cassar, publisher of Journals and Technical Publications, emailed Marwan on October 19: “AIP has declined to publish the conference proceedings volume entitled Symposium on New Energy Technology based on an internal scientific review of the final material delivered to us. Our conference proceedings series, like most others, does not provide the authors access to an external peer review process. If the authors involved in this symposium are interested in receiving detailed reports on their work from the scientific community, we encourage them to submit their work to one of the scholarly journals in the appropriate field…AIP considers the matter closed and will not enter into further correspondence.”
Storms got to the point that many were scratching their heads about—the late nature of the withdrawal from publication, after Marwan had worked months with the editorial staff—in an email to Cassar on October 21: “Of course an escape clause is required in any contact to protect your organization from having to publish poor work. However, when a submission has reached the stage achieved by the submission made by Dr. Marwan, issues of poor quality and subject matter should have been addressed and overcome. If a flaw is found at this late stage, good business practice and common courtesy requires a detailed explanation be given. In the absence of such an explanation, a person is forced to conclude that rejection is based on objections raised by an individual about the subject, i.e. cold fusion. If this were the reason, it becomes a potential embarrassment and hard to justify, so the legal reason is used. I hope this was not the reason.”
Dr. Melvin Miles wrote to AIP officials on October 30 to pose a challenge regarding the results presented in his paper from the rejected proceedings: “I challenge any scientists, including the sixteen authors of the 1990 MIT publication and the present AIP officials, to refute any statement made in [my paper]. Poor calorimetry should have never been used against the outstanding electrochemical calorimetry developed by Martin Fleischmann. My AIP paper in the cancelled AIP book publication would have helped to provide a better understanding and acceptance of Fleischmann’s calorimetric equations and methods. Please let me know exactly what was scientifically incorrect, if anything, in my AIP calorimetric paper. The expected lack of response to my challenge will be further evidence that the AIP book cancellation decision was based on politics rather than on the science.”
On November 4, Dr. Scott Chubb also emailed Dylla: “I was perplexed and surprised to learn of the AIP’s decision…This decision is especially disappointing to the individuals (including myself) who prepared papers for the Proceedings…because of the long, arduous task of ensuring that what they had written was in compliance with the AIP guidelines for published material. . .The fact that the final decision to not publish the Proceedings occurred at the last minute has raised serious questions about the nature and objectivity of the internal review process that has been used as justification for this decision.” Dylla did respond to Chubb, indicating that he would accept a short phone call later in the year.
No direct response has been given by anyone at the AIP about the nature of the late rejection. No detailed information about internal reviews of the material have been provided either. Marwan reports that the $5,500 publishing fee has been refunded. But, this refund in no way makes up for the lost time and energy that Marwan expended in collecting and editing the papers in the proceedings. Clearly AIP was within their legal right (based on their contract) to withdraw the material from publication, but it does seem unethical for them to do so, particulary given the facts of the timeline of negotiations and work.
Some of the articles from the proceedings appear in this issue of Infinite Energy and others will follow. The Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (http://www.iscmns.org/CMNS/publications.htm) will publish a special edition made up of the entire proceedings (26 papers).